Why Economic Advisory Council should be supported




Soludo

Determined to reposition the country’s economy, improve people’s condition of living and leave Nigeria better than his administration met it, President Muhammadu Buhari, this week, approved the constitution of a new Economic Advisory Council (EAC).

The council, described by the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Muhammad, as the single most important decision taken by the president in his second term, with great potential for turning the economy, is to be chaired by Professor Doyin Salami. The emir said the beauty of the team, apart from the pedigree of its members, is their private sector experience and their independence of self and mind.

The advisory council would replace the current Economic Management Team (EMT) led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and would be reporting directly to the president, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity Mr Femi Adesina, said in a statement in Abuja.

Officially, the EAC would advise the president on economic policy matters including fiscal analysis, economic growth and a range of internal and global economic issues working with the relevant cabinet members and heads of monetary and fiscal agencies.

While there’s no doubting the fact that the team would add value to the president’s strategic plans, the academic backgrounds of the council members provide glimpses into the members’ high level of technical sophistication.

It is hoped that the members will use their individual and collective expertise to engender growth and development through the utilisation of the economic model expected to be designed.

Agreed, the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo-led economic team, which ceased to exist following the creation of the new Economic Advisory Council, did it best to get the economy quickly out of recession and handled other economic issues to the best its expertise, but the team lacked the expertise to anticipate situations like what happens if certain economic assumptions, believed to be unworkable, were changed and, thus lacked initiative and creativity.

Regrettably, absence of creativity and initiative until now, hampered the process of designing and implementation of sound economic policies.

Therefore, it is believed that the current economic team, for example, can tell the president what would happen if more money was spent on early childhood education and what happens if nothing is done about climate change.

This expertise and fresh perspective provide an alternative viewpoint for the president. At the same time, these advisers usually share the current administration’s political beliefs and goals and act as advocates within the government.

Ideally, the report of the council should include financial statistics, like the size of the money supply and credit, security markets, federal finance and international statistics. Within each of these areas are many related indicators. The council must also alert the president if trends impact current policy.

Importantly, the council should review federal agencies and recommend corrections to the president if an agency’s activities don’t support economic initiatives of the administration. The council’s neutrality is critical in this area because neutrality allows it to advise the president based on economic impacts alone. 

Unlike in the past, the council should develop specific policies on a regular basis and these policies must promote free competitive enterprise. They must also suggest ways to avoid future economic crises or end existing ones. Essentially, the recommendations must also maintain the poor states of employment and production while looking to improve them.

Ideally, too, the council should prepare economic research reports. These reports should cover broad range of current issues. For example, the council should consider and report on the economic benefits of expanding infrastructure investment, which is dear to the heart of the president.

Crucially, the council should provide sophisticated economic forecasts and reports that could lead the president to better understand the economy and lead the country using well informed ideas.

Thankfully, among members of the council are experts in macroeconomics, monetary policy, fiscal policy, development theory and financial markets.

Truly, like the emir of Kano observed, it’s impossible to think of a better team of advisers and the president deserves to be praised and supported on this decision by all Nigerians.

Indeed, the president has, with the establishment of this council, demonstrated his commitment to focus on and reposition the economy and there is no doubt that this council will add great value to economic policies, strategy and implementation for the benefit of the country. Members of the council are former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Professor Chukwuma Soludo, Professor Ode Ojowu, Dr Shehu Yahaya, Dr Iyabo Masha and Mr Bismark Rewane.

South Africa must show political will to end xenophobia

Expectedly, the South African Government, this week, officially apologised to the people and government of Nigeria over the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners in South Africa.

The apology was expected in consideration of the not-so-friendly responses of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians that include an outright condemnation of the attacks, sending of a special envoy to the president of South Africa, demand for compensation for victims of the attacks and repatriation of Nigerians from South Africa.

The apology offered to Nigeria by President Cyril Ramaphosa was conveyed to his Nigerian counterpart in Abuja by Ramaphosa’s Special Envoy, Mr Jeff Radebe.

Radebe, after a close-door meeting with the Nigerian leader, said President Ramaphosa had directed law enforcement agencies to apprehend all those involved in the attacks.

The Special Envoy said 10 people died during the attacks – two Zimbabweans and eight South Africans, stressing that there was no Nigerian casualty.

South Africa, he said, remains grateful for the role Nigeria played in ending apartheid in his country. And, above all, he said that he hopes, and many lovers of Africa’s unity and development hope, too, that the October planned visit of Buhari to South Africa would be seen as an opportunity by the prime leaders of Africa to strengthen ties and solidify relationship between the two countries.

The visit must be seen by Africans as a rare chance to be united and fight the scourge of xenophobia in South Africa. Africans must understand that the world is now integrated and, thus, we must preach love within and among ourselves, and not hatred.

We must preach to ourselves and show to the rest of the world that we are one brothers and sisters in the continent and we must move away from segregation in any form and manner.

Of course, improved investments in modern infrastructure projects will yield positive results for the continent but this can only happen if Africans, especially leaders, think continentally and act progressively.

There’s no doubt, part of the reasons for xenophobic attacks are poverty, illiteracy and struggle for scarce resources.

These ills of the continent can, in reality, be solved through job creation as the majority of young Africans are unemployed.

Agreed, the size of African economies are small and cannot absorb all the potential of its young people and cannot create large number of employment that is needed. This situation, therefore, makes coming of Africans together to form mega projects important.

In this regard, Nigeria and South Africa must continue to play the critical leadership role needed to rebuild Africa and take it to the enviable level desired by Africans.

Essentially, rather than viewed as setback, the xenophobic attacks in South Africa should serve as an opportunity for Africans to wake up to the challenges of fighting unemployment, poverty and inequality in the continent.

However, on its part, the South African government must stop prevaricating around the issue of violence against foreign nationals and take firm action in dealing with the situation.

In some ways, it’s regrettable that there is a lack of political will on the part of the government to deal with issues of violence and xenophobia in a decisive and sustainable way.

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